21 August 2009

Woman who was detained in Kenya suing Ottawa for $2.5 million

By The Canadian Press

TORONTO - A Canadian woman who was stranded for months in Kenya over false claims that she was an impostor is suing Ottawa for $2.5 million for her ordeal.

Her lawyers and supporters are also asking for a public inquiry and apology from the federal government. "I was alone when my government let me down," Suaad Hagi Mohamud, 31, said Friday.

"I don't care about money. ... I'm only (going) to court so this never happens to another Canadian citizen."

Mohamud, who was born in Somalia, was stranded for almost three months in Kenya after authorities said her lips did not match her four-year-old passport photo.

Canadian officials branded her an impostor, voided her passport and handed it over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution.

She returned to Toronto on Saturday and was reunited with her 12-year-old son after genetic tests proved her identity and the charges against her were dropped.

Her lawyers say they've been stonewalled by federal officials and believe the public will not see the results of an internal government investigation into her case.

One of her lawyers, Julian Falconer, called her ordeal Kafkaesque.

An inquiry must be called to investigate whether Mohamud's race and culture played a role in how she was treated, said Falconer, who represented Maher Arar in his lawsuit against Ottawa.

"If a Caucasian person had been in Suaad's position in Kenya, would she have received the callous and reckless treatment she did?" he said.

"We don't know the answer. We need someone to look at it and answer that question, because frankly, I find it hard to believe that a white, Anglo-Saxon person in her position would have been treated the same way."

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